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Finding Minnesota: Stone barns have become hot new hubs for pizza, wine

Finding Minnesota: The Stone Barn
Finding Minnesota: The Stone Barn 02:53

NELSON, Wis. -- There's a stone barn craze happening across the Midwest. In this week's Finding Minnesota, John Lauritsen shows us how these farm relics have gone from housing dairy cows, to serving wine and pizza.

Visiting Matt and Marcy Smith's home makes you feel like you're in Italy's wine country rather than Wisconsin's farm country.

"It's beautiful. We wake up and pinch ourselves and say, 'I can't believe we live out here,'" said Matt Smith.

When they bought this place in 2016, they learned that pretty much everything here is an original. That includes the foundation of a stone barn built in 1896.

"Sometimes people ask is this created just for this venue? They ask if we created it or is it original? And we always tell them it's original," said Marcy Smith.

The wood part of the barn is long gone, but the stone still stands. It's one of only a few examples left in the Midwest. The Frank Schott barn near Chokio, Minnesota still looms like an agricultural relic despite being 100 years old. The Mayowood Stone Barn near Rochester is well past the century mark, but it's still used for weddings.

"It's just amazing to see the craftsmanship that was put into this," said Marcy Smith.

The Smiths' barn near Nelson, Wisconsin, has been repurposed into a wine and pizza venue. In 2014, the record for most pizzas in one day was 245. On Labor Day, they shattered that number.


"The new record is 411 pizzas, so it's just pretty amazing," said Marcy Smith.

An oven from Italy helps bake those pizzas. The couple believes their growing popularity is a testament to the barn's builders.

"The quarry is actually at the top of the bluff. You can see where they actually chiseled out by hand the sandstone," Matt Smith said.

The wood used for the couple's other barn also comes from this property. This barn is used for weddings and other events. The upkeep is constant. Matt Smith, who used to be a social studies teacher, has learned the art of tuckpointing to keep things in working order.

But the Smiths believe if this foundation has already withstood 125 years of wind, snow and ice, there's no reason it can't make it another 125 years.

"It is really neat to think about the people who were farming this land and in this barn, and now we're eating pizzas in the same space," said Marcy Smith. "And the fact that the walls are so intact is pretty amazing after that many years."

While it's no longer used as a farm, the Smiths use local products for their pizzas at the Stone Barn.

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